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On Dan Patrick’s hostility to the LGBT community

Ross Ramsey sums up the Dan Patrick tweetorrhea situation and tries to make sense of it.

Not Dan Patrick…yet

Lately, the lieutenant governor has been focused on transgender Texans and which bathrooms they should use — those of their identity or those of the gender listed on their birth certificates. His argument is that perverts — men, to be specific — will find their way into women’s restrooms and locker rooms if the lines that separate the genders are blurred by recognition of transgender rights.

Patrick is not alone in this. It’s a hot issue in conservative circles with recent flashpoints in Houston, where the city’s Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was voted down last year; in North Carolina, where the backlash against a state law has included canceled conventions, concerts and corporate relocations; and in Texas, where the Fort Worth school district’s policy accommodating transgender students raised Patrick’s ire and led him to call for new leadership at the school district.

Patrick was using social media as recently as last Friday to beat the drum on the bathroom policies in Fort Worth schools. He’s been pushing that school district on one hand while shaking the other at federal education officials whose policies line up with Fort Worth ISD’s.

And Patrick is a longtime foe of same-sex marriage. His mis-tweet on that subject — “MARRIAGE= ONE MAN & ONE MAN…” brought him some social media ridicule in February 2014, when he was running for his current job. He meant one man and one woman. His real point was in the next lines: “Enough of these activist judges. FAVORITE if you agree. I know the silent majority out there is with us!”

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled bans on those marriages are unconstitutional, Patrick responded by asking the state’s top lawyer whether local officials could be forced to perform the ceremonies.

The lieutenant governor has a track record with the LGBT community. They have him marked as an opponent. He seems to have them marked the same way. Whatever else might be said about it, they don’t trust each other.

No wonder they read his Sunday morning post the way they did, assuming the worst. Their mutual history taught them to expect it.

I don’t disagree with Ramsey’s diagnosis, but the whole thing is so bloodless I feel like I’m reading about mannequins. This isn’t a dry policy dispute over tax credits or land use or what have you. It’s about people and their inclusion in society. To put it simply, Dan Patrick does not want LGBT people to exist. He wants them all to go back into the closet where he never has to see or hear or think about them again, or better yet to have their gayness or trans-ness prayed away. It doesn’t get any more fundamental than this. The article doesn’t convey that.

There’s another aspect to this that has to be said: Dan Patrick is wrong. He’s wrong on any number of levels, but most importantly he’s wrong as a matter of basic American values, in that “all men (sic) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We have been down this road many times in our history, to remind ourselves that “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” apply to all of us, we continue down that road today, and we will still be on that road years from now. Look at it this way: In 20 or 30 years’ time, when today’s children are trying to explain our current events to whatever they’ll be calling the millennials of the future, will Dan Patrick be seen as a brave defender of America’s values, or will he be seen as another incarnation of Bull Connor? I know which outcome I’d bet on.

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2 Comments

  1. voter_worker says:

    Houston Chronicle commenters are being pretty hard on Mr. Patrick. It gives me hope. http://www.chron.com/news/article/Texas-Lt-Governor-Dan-Patrick-tweets-reap-what-8076147.php

  2. Bill Shirley says:

    Sometimes we need to restate what we thought should be self evident.